From out of nowhere, a basketball slams into the side of my head.
How did this happen?
Recently, my son discovered the joy of playing basketball, which I’m thrilled about. Sport plays a pivotal role in health, connection, and wellbeing, whether you’re 7 or 77.
Consequently, we’ve taken to playing basketball on local courts over the weekends. It’s an absolute riot. We’re still a few tricks short of becoming full-fledged court hustlers, but we’re getting there.
However, last Sunday was different. We weren’t playing on a court, but instead, playing on an arcade basketball shooting game.
My son had invited me to join him, and together we were feverishly working against the clock, snatching-up-balls and shooting hoops before the timer ran out.
That’s when it struck me. I mean, it really struck me.
Unwittingly, my son had launched a ball straight up, which then ricocheted forcefully off the ceiling and crashed into the top of my head.
The pain was intense.
In the background, I could see two men laughing, pointing in my direction. (Which took me straight back to my school days.)
How do I handle this situation? What is the appropriate response?
I exclaimed, “Ow” (the reaction), took a breath, and carried on (the response).
Now, the reaction is natural and, frankly, unavoidable. My head hurt a lot! But the response takes awareness, responsibility, and willpower.
Why is that?
My son has been grappling with managing his response to unforeseen and unpleasant situations. For instance, when it’s time to turn off the television, or when we can’t spare time for a visit to the park, and so forth. His reactions aren’t always ideal when faced with such predicaments.
I’ve been guiding him on handling negative and unexpected situations in a more composed manner.
And here I was, confronted with an unexpected, unpleasant situation myself.
It would’ve been easy to blame my son for my physical discomfort and my perceived humiliation – as evidenced by the men who laughed at me. It would’ve been easy for me to yell and lose my cool.
- I know the pain is temporary.
- I do not crave or seek validation from strangers, thus I haven’t lost face since their opinions of me are inconsequential.
- I recognise that I’m a role model. My responses are influential, impacting not just my son, but everyone else present.
The last point is key. It heightens my awareness of my past, present, and future behaviour. It underscores my role and responsibility as a leader.
So, I take a deep breath, carry on playing, and continue having fun with my son
So, why does this story matter?
Well, we only become great leaders when we:
- Regulate our emotions: Anger, sadness, and various other emotions have their rightful places. But, great leaders learn to master them.
- Become aware of our impact on others.
- Are strong role models.
- Stop worrying about being ‘liked’ by everyone.
I’m determined to be a great leader and coach for everyone I connect with.
I am determined to play a positive role in every room I am in.
Whether that’s a boardroom, on stage at a conference, or in a laundromat, I refuse not to be a positive role model everywhere I go.
And I’m convinced that you should do the same.
Together we can charge ahead and build stronger teams, companies, and communities.
Let’s do this.